KOCHI - An Indian court has convicted a senior Catholic priest of raping a minor and sentenced him to 20 years in jail, the latest sexual assault scandal involving the Church in southern Kerala state.
Robin Vadakkumchery was found guilty on Saturday (Feb 16) of raping a 16-year-old schoolgirl, with the crime only coming to light after the victim gave birth to a baby in a surprise delivery in February 2017.
Citing a lack of evidence, the court acquitted four nuns, a priest and an orphanage employee who had been accused of trying to cover up the crime and shield the the influential Vadakkumchery.
After a child rights charity reported the secret delivery to the police, leading to the priest's arrest at Kochi airport as he attempted to board a plane to Canada, many of the main witnesses in the case turned hostile.
"Almost all the independent witnesses proved non-cooperative, making it difficult for us to provide substantive evidence against all that the defence threw at us," Inspector Sunil Kumar, who investigated the case, told AFP.